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For This Oxford Alumnus, Scholarship Support Comes Full Circle

Paul Jackson and Tami Puckett

Paul P. Jackson Jr. 82Ox 84B and Tami Puckett support Oxford students.

Scholarship funds meant that Paul P. Jackson Jr. 82Ox 84B could attend Oxford College, and once he left his home state of Florida, he never looked back. The gift changed his life. Much later, when he needed to name a life insurance beneficiary, he designated Oxford College, seizing the chance to provide scholarship funds to future students.

"If not for the scholarship that Oxford offered me, I would have attended a state school and missed out on making these friends and contacts," Jackson says of his wide circle of contacts from his alma mater. "My education helped prepare me for anything that the real world has thrown at me. I made this planned gift because I would like to provide the same opportunity down the road for Oxford students, so they can run with it."

Jackson's connection to Emory began at birth. His father, Paul P. Jackson Sr. 49C, was among the multitude of students who increased Emory's enrollment right after World War II.

"I always knew about Emory growing up," says Jackson, who lived in Orlando at the time. "I wasn't that interested in the Atlanta campus, but a guy at my church went to Oxford and told me about it. When I visited, I loved it."

Lasting relationships formed during his two years at Oxford, particularly with professors Jim Warburton 73G and Neil Penn, who taught Spanish and history, respectively. "Neil Penn really forced me to learn to study properly so I could survive and excel in his class," Jackson says. "Those were tools you easily could apply in other classes."

After graduation, Jackson remained in the Atlanta area and deepened his Emory ties. "I never got disconnected," he says. "A young alumni group had started, and I got involved with my first Oxford class reunion at the five-year mark. From that point, I liked staying in contact with people there that I wanted to be even more plugged in, and it was easy because I lived locally."

With undergraduate degrees in management and marketing, Jackson today is vice president of a business solutions company that he first learned about from an Oxford friend. In 1998, he married Tami Puckett, a sculptor and professional home organizer and designer, who fully supports his decision to give back.

After serving two years as president of the Oxford College Alumni Board, Jackson received the 2008 Outstanding Alumnus Award. He served on the Emory Alumni Board for six years. Today Jackson serves on the Oxford College Board of Counselors, which advises Dean Douglas A. Hicks and his administration on issues of high priority to the Oxford community.

In these leadership roles, "It's rewarding to see the fruits of our labors," Jackson says. "Student relationships are so important for Oxford, so our alumni don't disconnect when they step off campus. We want them to stay connected to us even when they are all over the world."

Staying involved for so long means that Jackson frequently bumps into Oxford acquaintances. "Everywhere we go, it seems, I see someone I know from Oxford," he says. "We call this 'the X factor.'"

Looking back on his favorite memories, Jackson is proud of his alma mater's expansion and viability. "When I was there, 20 percent of Oxford students were from Florida," he recalls. "It has doubled in size now, and the diversity of the student body is huge. Some people can't accept change like that, and I know that my dad didn't understand my experience in 1984 compared to his in 1949." But Jackson knows that change is a vital element to Oxford's success. "Any institution that is stagnant is going to close."

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